Vorkuta is situated in permafrost zone, only 180 km from the Arctic Ocean coastline. It is the easternmost town in Europe. After the beginning of Joseph Stalin’s mass political repressions in 1937-1938 known as the Great Terror, in Vorkuta was formed one of the most cruel Gulag camp “Vorkutlag”. Prisoner’s forced labour was used for coal mining. Mortality rate in Vorkutlag from disease, exhaustion and hunger was very high. More than 200 thousand prisoners died in Vorkuta. In 1950s many people from central and southern USSR began to move to Vorkuta. High level salaries, social privileges attracted tens of thousands young people from the Soviet Union. Most of the work in the town was connected with coal mining. After the Fall of the USSR profitability of coal mines was doubted. The collapse of the Soviet economy set in motion the decline of Vorkuta: unemployment spiked, crime increased and living standards sank. Vorkuta became one of the most rapidly dying cities in Russia.

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